Mets 2019 Auditions: A fresh start for Jay Bruce somewhere else
By Jose Rivera
When Jay Bruce returns from the disabled list, he’s doing more for his future in another city than he is for the New York Mets.
When the New York Mets signed outfielder Jay Bruce to a three-year contract in the 2017 offseason, the hopes were he would be one of the final pieces to a contending championship team.
After missing most of 2018 due to injuries, if Bruce does come back, you can almost guarantee the Mets will try to maximize his value and trade him after the 2018 season.
The Mets would love to get Bruce back in the lineup to salvage what has been a dreadful 2018 season. Realistically, it would be smart for New York to gauge the value of Bruce and prepare to make a move this winter.
Even though Bruce has been injured for most of the year, he definitely still can help a lot of teams who lack power in their lineup. He is a career .247 hitter and has hit 280 home runs over an 11-year span. He has also displayed versatility as he has been called upon to play first base as well for the Mets. As he ages, expect to see more of this.
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There are a couple of hurdles when it comes to trading the 31-year-old veteran. First of all, his age will play a factor, but so will his current contract.
After this season, Bruce will be under contract for two more years and will be owed $28 million dollars. That is not exactly the most attractive sell, but depending on what the Mets are seeking in return, they will have some options.
They could scout the market for a player that could help them next year and swap bad contracts with a team. They can also attach a prospect to Bruce to entice a team to take him. However, the option the Mets should consider is trying to find a reliever or two that they can exchange for Bruce’s power.
Some fans will probably make the argument that they should hang onto Bruce instead of dealing him. Although hanging on to him wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world, it would cause some complications.
For example, playing time might be an issue next year. The roster will have four outfielders for three spots. With Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto almost a lock to start every day that really only leaves one spot for Bruce or Yoenis Cespedes. Although Cespedes is always getting injured and will start 2019 on the disabled list, Bruce has a better trade value than Cespedes and would be easier to move.
The Mets can always back up Cespedes with a fourth outfielder like Juan Lagares or maybe Austin Jackson, should he re-sign with the team.
The Mets have potential to bounce back next year and be a winning team again. Needless to say, they are missing some pieces and also lack prospects to sustain a winning team for multiple years. Dealing Bruce gives the potential to pick up a piece to win now or stock for the future.
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Either way, if Bruce does take the field again in 2018 it is almost certain all 29 other teams will have eyes on the right fielder whether their interest is limited or just out of curiosity.